Salmon in the Schools

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Salmon return! Late October, NOVEMBER, early December

Male Chum salmon, 33 inches in length. This is the 1st sighting of the fall run in Piper’s Creek, found dead and scavenged; 10-27-18

Salmon are returning to Carkeek Park!  Like old friends, park visitors are walking the trails with keen eyes and ears to find fish returning to their home waters.

Students on field trips to Carkeek Park on Monday, October 29, 2018 from St. George and Thornton Creek Elementary Schools observed a few early Coho salmon during one of their three educational activities, the Interpretive Creek Walk.  These are 2 of 34 schools participating in this fall’s Salmon Search program at Carkeek Park.  Other schools and organizations are also visiting every day.

Students on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 from Gatewood and West Woodland Elementary Schools observed a female Coho salmon turning on her side and digging a nest (redd) during one of their Interpretive Creek Walks.  Another Coho was periodically seen beside the female in mating position during brief encounters.

Students on Thursday, November 1, 2018 from Kimball and Queen Anne Elementary Schools observed paired male and female Coho salmon in at least three different locations during their Interpretive Creek Walks.

Male Coho spawner provided by FISH for use in salmon dissection activity; 11-2-18

Students on Friday, November 2, 2018 from Green Lake Elementary School observed Coho salmon in Piper’s Creek during their Interpretive Creek Walks.  Schools in the Salmon Search program also participate in Salmon Dissection/Anatomy and Salmon Ecosystem Simulation activities.  Coho salmon are provided each year by Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH).  Friday’s fish was not only quite large, but had a fantastically developed kype (hooked jaws found in the spawning form of male salmon and female spawners to a lesser degree).

Students on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 from Concord Elementary School were able to observe Chum salmon in Piper’s Creek during their Interpretive Creek Walks.  Chum salmon is the primary salmon species in the Piper’s Creek system and their numbers will increase steadily into November.  On Tuesday, Concord students were able to observer nearly a dozen Chum salmon in several locations.

We’re hoping for rain to bring our expected Chum salmon into Piper’s Creek.  Rain increases the flow of water from the Pipers Creek Watershed to Puget Sound and attracts fish that were reared in these waters in past years by the CWCAP stocking and education programs.

Historically, the 2nd and 3rd weeks of November have seen peaks of salmon numbers and spawning activity in the Piper’s Creek system, with increasing numbers before this and diminishing numbers after this.  Thanksgiving has been within a few days of the actual peak of live activity for at least the last 5 years.  

Here’s a short history of first sightings in the park over the past four years: October 27, 2018; October 19, 2017; October 27, 2016; October 26, 2015

Select here for a Salmon Return summary for the past 4 years:
CarkeekWatershed.org/salmon-return/

Salmon activities at Carkeek Park this Fall 2018

Each salmon carcass is sampled for a variety of standard data needed to determine spawning success.

CWCAP Spawning Survey & Count
Each Fall, Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project (CWCAP) enters the creeks and tributaries in the Pipers Creek Watershed to collect data from the salmon that naturally die after returning to the system. The primary objective is to determine the relative spawning success of salmon in Piper’s Creek and its largest tributary, Venema Creek. Spawning success over time is one measure of the health of the salmon run and the health of the creeks. Each Saturday beginning in early November until the end of the salmon run (1st or 2nd week of December) you will see CWCAP investigators collecting data from deceased salmon. Data is compiled and submitted to local agencies to help understand the status of salmon in our urban creeks. Say hello when you’re at the park on Saturdays each fall. We’ll be there between 10am and early-to-mid afternoon.

These two Chum salmon from the fall of 2017 moved from Pipers Creek to Venema Creek in often grueling search for mates.

Carkeek Park Salmon Stewards
Be sure to visit Carkeek Park on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov 3 to Dec 2, 2018 between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM when trained volunteer docents, or Carkeek Park Salmon Stewards, will be available along Piper’s Creek.  Sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), these friendly Salmon Stewards in great looking blue vests will show you where the salmon can best be viewed.  With an excellent information canopy and determined salmon seeking prime habitat and mates, you are bound to learn about salmon life cycles, watershed issues, and water quality fundamentals.  Tell your own fish stories.  Or just observe.  Most of all, bring your family and friends!

Select here for a Salmon Return summary for the past 4 years:
CarkeekWatershed.org/salmon-return/

Carkeek Park Salmon Search
Beginning Oct 25 to Dec 7, 2018, more than 30 elementary public and private schools will take part in field trips to Carkeek Park to experience the remarkable return of salmon.  This annual program, sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), provides 3 educational activities that match Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the timely arrival of salmon to the park.  Each school participates in a Salmon Dissection/Anatomy activity, a Salmon Ecosystem Simulation activity, and an Interpretive Creek Walk along Piper’s Creek.

Last Fall 2017, 25 schools participated with 1,256 students and 222 teachers, parents and chaperones attending.  Most of the Salmon Search schools will participate in the Salmon in the Schools — Seattle program beginning in January when they will raise salmon eggs in their schools.

Salmon in the Schools Training
On Saturday, October 27, 2018, a new group of public and private school teachers participated in training at Carkeek Park designed to prepare them to set up and maintain 55 gallon refrigerated salmon aquariums.  These 18 daring and committed teachers will not only raise 200-220 salmon eggs to the fry stage (early free-swimming), they will do so with the help of their students while integrating curriculum-based education around science, math, social studies, and art.

The 2019 annual Salmon in the Schools — Seattle program is 70 schools strong this year.  Schools choose to receive either Chum, Coho, or Chinook salmon based on, among other considerations, their school’s location relative to permitted release sites (e.g., Lake Washington, Puget Sound).

Of the 70 city-wide schools participating in Salmon in the Schools — Seattle, about two dozen have chosen Chum salmon and will therefore bring their salmon fry to Carkeek Park in April to be imprinted by CWCAP Salmon Imprint Steward volunteers for release in May.

Welcome the autumn and the salmon!